National Science Foundation awards UH $4.6 million

Grant will support research and education network connections in the Pacific

University of Hawaiʻi
Karen K Fujii, (808) 956-9393
Communications Officer, Office of the VP for Information Technology & CIO
Posted: Apr 28, 2015

HONOLULU – The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded the University of Hawaiʻi (UH) a five-year, $4.6 million grant to support the international research and education network connections in the Pacific. 

The grant will support the U.S. costs associated with two 40Gbps (Gigabits per second) links from Australia and New Zealand to the U.S. via Hawaiʻi. These links are provisioned over submarine fiber optic capacity provided by the Southern Cross Cable Network (SCCN) to Australiaʻs Academic and Research Network (AARNet) through a unique partnership established over a decade ago.

One link connects from Australia to New Zealand, where the Research and Education Network of New Zealand (REANNZ) connects, to Hawaiʻi Island to Los Angeles.  The other link connects from Australia to Oʻahu to Seattle.  On the U.S. West Coast, both links terminate in the Pacific Wave network exchange which provides global connectivity to research and education networks across the U.S. and to Asia.  As part of the five-year project, these links will be upgraded to 100Gbps each in 2016. 

“UH has a long and rich history as a leader in academic networking and Internet development in the region,” said David Lassner, UH President and Principal Investigator for the grant.  “The first international Internet connection to Australia was implemented over 25 years ago as a partnership between AARNet and UH, and we remain uniquely positioned to lead this effort as the premier research institution in the Pacific.”

The grant was celebrated on Tuesday, April 28 at the Australian Embassy in Washington DC, with remarks from the Australian Ambassador to the U.S. Kim Beazley, the NSF Assistant Director for Computer & Information Science and Engineering (CISE) Jim Kurose, the CEO of AARNet Chris Hancock and President Lassner.  Also participating in the celebration were leaders from Internet2, REANNZ and Pacific Wave.

Research and education networks around the world connect researchers, educators, information and technology resources to address global challenges and opportunities in multiple disciplines.  Australia-U.S. collaborations that will be supported through this project include astronomy, oceanography, high energy physics, coral reef research and more.  Modern research increasingly depends on these high-speed networks to connect globally distributed scientific teams across disciplines with distributed environmental sensor networks, observatories, and computational and data storage resources to support “big data” techniques.  Advanced networks also enable new methods of collaboration and education, and the transport of ultra-high definition video in real time.

The project will also provide a focus for UH to work with Pacific Island colleges, universities, governments and stakeholders to develop research and education network capabilities for the Pacific Islands. These islands, which are on the front lines of climate change, are the last part of the world with no coherent regional research and education network initiative. While lack of affordable communications infrastructure has been a barrier for many years, submarine fiber optic cables now connect some of these islands. New fiber projects are under development for others and new satellite initiatives provide more connectivity at lower costs than previously available.  The Network Startup Resource Center (NSRC) at the University of Oregon will be partnering with technical assistance, training and human resource development.

“We are greatful to NSF for their support of this significant expansion of capacity between the U.S., Australia and New Zealand that will also connect our UH community with researchers networks serving the Pacific region, including our partners Internet2, AARNet and REANNZ,” said UH Vice-President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer, Garret Yoshimi.  “We look forward to continuing to work collaboratively to build R&E capacity throughout the region, in particular to help connect the underserved and geographically dispersed Pacific Island communities.”

UH will lead this work in close collaboration with its partners in international networking AARNet, REANNZ, Pacific Wave, a partnership between the Corporation for Educational Networking Initiatives in California (CENIC) and the Pacific Northwest Gigapop (PNWGP) in Seattle; and the Network Startup Resource Center (NSRC) at the University of Oregon.